Snohomish County Treasurer Kirke Sievers on the job in 2013. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

Snohomish County Treasurer Kirke Sievers on the job in 2013. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

After 82 years in office, Sievers family could get new honor

A proposal would honor the longtime Snohomish County treasurer and his late father for their long history of service.

EVERETT — The plaza outside the Snohomish County Courthouse could soon honor a storied family in local politics.

There’s a proposal to name it after county Treasurer Kirke Sievers and his late father, Verne Sievers. Between them, the father-son tandem have served 80-plus years and counting in elected county office. The near-continuous streak goes back to 1934.

“I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for them for a long time,” said County Councilman Sam Low, who suggested the idea. “I think it’s the right thing to do to remember who they are and what they mean to this community.”

Low got to know the Sievers family personally while growing up in Everett.

A discussion about the naming proposal is planned at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 during the council’s operations committee. If passed, the legislation would authorize a plaque for “Sievers Plaza” on the north side of the county courthouse, along Wall Street.

Verne Sievers in 1962.

Verne Sievers in 1962.

The plaza recently closed for a major construction project to add a new five-story wing.

Kirke Sievers, 75, is serving his third consecutive term as treasurer. He has the responsibility of sending out annual property tax statements. He jokingly calls the statements “Valentine’s Day cards” because they typically get mailed around the Feb. 14 holiday.

He said he resisted at first when Low and others approached him about the idea of naming a county landmark after his family.

“Other people at the county deserve it more than me,” he remembered thinking.

He had a change of heart.

“I think that would be nice,” he said last week.

Kirke Sievers made his initial run for treasurer in 1974, the year his father retired from the same post. At the time, he was living in Everett and teaching business and typing classes at Marysville High School, back when there was only one high school in town.

“I came home,” he recalled. “I read the paper (and) I read an article about my dad not running again. He never said a word to me.”

The two had a good relationship, he said. It just wasn’t a topic that came up.

“He never talked politics in the house,” Kirke Sievers said.

The younger Sievers later served on the County Council for a dozen years. After running up against term limits on the council, he campaigned successfully to win back his old job as treasurer in 2007. He’s facing term limits again next year and expects to retire.

With 43 continuous years in office, the son has surpassed his dad’s tenure.

Verne Sievers was elected county auditor in 1934 and 1938. He ran for treasurer in 1942, but left office for a couple of years to serve in the Navy during World War II. In a political ad from 1962, he touted “the importance of providing a most efficient and courteous administration.”

Both father and son were presidents of the Washington State Association of County Treasurers. Both ran as Democrats, though the treasurer’s job is now non-partisan.

Verne Sievers died in 1990.

There’s no heir apparent in the line of political succession.

Jocelyn Sievers-Bailey, the eldest of Kirke and his wife Patti’s three children, has an interest in politics, but doesn’t want to change careers. She has taught at Whittier Elementary for 24 years and is preparing to take on a new position in the Everett School District.

“If I didn’t like my job teaching, I would love to follow in my grandpa and dad’s footsteps as an elected official,” she said. “For now, I’m staying at Everett Public Schools.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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